The Patagonia Museum is home to a collection of dolls, some of whom, the author contends, have been taken by the resident ghost. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

If you are ever alone in the old grade school (now the Patagonia Museum), you might hear the ghost. I started asking museum members and old teachers if they’d heard her (I think it’s a girl), and at first they scoffed. “There’s no ghosts!” they laugh. Then I ask, “Have you heard footsteps?” and a strange look comes over their faces. German, our Museum President, said, “There’s times I’ve been here alone and I think I hear someone come in, and when I go to look, there’s no one there.” 

No one you can see, anyway. Lee Gordon was head of maintenance for Patagonia schools some years back, and he doesn’t believe in ghosts. But he admitted that when he was working in the crawl space underneath the 1914 building (and how creepy must that be?) he would always hear footsteps on the hickory floors above. When he knew no one was there.

Bonnie’s right there with me. She has heard and felt the ghost. Maureen, however, looked at me as if I was insane. Ten minutes later came a rustling in the hallway, and she went to investigate, coming back with a picture of the old Patagonia Opera House that had detached itself from the wall. “It’s the GHOST!” I mouthed to Maureen, swirling my ghostly fingers in the air. Pretty sure she still thinks I should have therapy.

The Patagonia Museum has a ghost. Of course it does… And then the ghost started disappearing things.

It’s a girl ghost, I’m pretty sure. Who else would take pink stuffed animals, sheep and plump pigs, off of Chatty Kathy’s lap?

It started several months ago with a creepy doll. To be fair, there have been creepy dolls there since we opened the museum in 2016. All dolls are a bit creepy, don’t you think? Even Chatty Kathy, who was my doll in the 1960s, with her rabbity little teeth and wide eyes and pink pinafore dress. She has been creeping me out since I was ten, and that was, well, a long time ago. 

But then the really scary one arrived. She had straight black hair and heavy bangs. She stared ahead at nothing and sat on a tiny footstool. I took a picture of her for the museum’s Instagram account. The next time I went to the museum, she was gone.

Astrid also vanished the same night. Astrid was from San Francisco, and she had tight hard curls and a crazy look on her face. Her head used to fall off.

That same night, three wooden Mexican masks went away. They were painted red or pale with abalone eyes and shell teeth. They were scary in their own way.

Also my grandmother’s black velvet cloche hat with a tiny veil that was in the bathroom, and an old umbrella with black fabric and faded red flowers. Where are they now? Are they playing with Astrid and Bangs, and Buzz Lightyear, and the stuffed pink pig, in some antechamber of the Otherworld? I suppose it doesn’t matter. The little girl poltergeist has them now.

My favorite museum ghost is the hamster, rolling around in his hamster ball from room to room. If you went to school there, you know.